Happy Shivaratri ! The Cosmic Dancer is very dear to me, especially as Nataraja, the Lord of dance & music. The idea of the eternal dance which keeps the rhythms of the universe is so alluring somehow. And to my art loving eyes, this form of Nataraja designed by sculptors of the Chola period (880-1279) is perfect. A beautiful synthesis of the active and the static, the circle representing both the whole and the infinite, Shiva perfectly balanced holding both symbols of destruction and protection – what a perfect illustration of the concept of Shiva!!
I remember a book I read in my late teens called the Tao of Physics, which linked two worlds which fascinated me, Physics and Eastern Mysticism. The cover of the Indian edition of this book featured Shiva as Nataraja. The author Fritzof Capra says that “every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction…without end…For the modern physicists, then Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter. As in Hindu mythology, it is a continual dance of creation and destruction involving the whole cosmos; the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena.” For me, the macro world of the universe, the micro world of quantum physics, the subtle world of music and dance, the mysticism of Shiva’s Cosmic dance to the sound of the pranava – all these have merged into an intricately patterned whole.
To celebrate Shivaratri and his Cosmic Dance, I present the song Natanam Aadinar (He Danced) by Gopalakrishna Bharathi (1811-1896). The song is set to the raga Vasanta. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here. The lyrics are available on this site. As it is a traditional Bharatanatyam song, I went searching for a suitable clip and found this rather unusual street side performance. I hope you enjoy it !